In late 2014, Tampa’s Riverwalk got the green light to allow patrons to possess open containers of beer, wine and liquor. While this has successfully helped enhance the city’s mission to build a downtown that people want to be a part of, the open container policy does have limitations.
Read on to learn the complete guide to open container laws in Tampa, Fla. and the rest of the state.
Open Container Laws and Limitations for Tampa’s Riverwalk
For patrons wanting to enjoy an alcoholic beverage on Tampa’s Riverwalk, the alcohol must come from one of the approved, licensed establishments (simply put, don’t bring your own libations). Any alcohol purchased from one of the approved, licensed establishment must be in a plastic cup with the Riverwalk logo.
Patrons can only carry two drinks at a time and cannot possess alcohol between 1 a.m. and 11 a.m. In addition, it is unlawful to take a drink from the Riverwalk into a city park unless there is a permitted special event.
You can read the full details on the ordinance here.
What Counts as An “Open Container” in Florida?
An “open container” is any alcoholic beverage where the seal is broken, or the drink is otherwise immediately ready to be consumed. Most alcoholic drinks are going to count as an “open container”. Beers in bottles or cans, mixed drinks in a cup, and alcoholic beverages in a flask are all considered open containers.
Where Can You Legally Drink Alcohol in Florida?
It’s unlawful to have an open alcoholic beverage in many public spaces in Florida. When you read “It’s unlawful to have an open container on a road” you may just think of being in the car, but the truth is that the law defines “road” pretty broadly.
It’s actually unlawful to have an open container on a street, highway, alley, sidewalk, roadbed, ditches, drains, water storage areas, bridges, tunnels, and ferries unless otherwise noted.
Can Passengers Drink Alcohol in Florida?
You also can’t have an open container as a passenger in any vehicle, including if the car is parked or stopped on the “road” (which is a little bit broader than “the road,” as we talked about earlier).
This includes driving for services like Uber and Lyft. Your Uber or Lyft drivers DO NOT have commercial driving licenses, and by drinking in the car you are putting yourself at risk of an open container charge. Uber and Lyft drivers are not treated as commercial drivers legally, and having open containers is also against the policy of these rideshare services.
Are There Any Exemptions to the Open Container Laws?
The only places you are allowed to have an open container in the car is if it’s in the trunk, glove box, or other locked non-passenger area of the vehicle. So you could put an open beer back into your cooler, and then into your trunk after a beach day.
Wine bottles are also a special case in open container laws. A wine bottle that has been resealed, is not considered an open container. So it’s perfectly legal for you to re-cork a nice wine you had with dinner and take it home!
RVs are exempt from some of the more strict open container laws, although you can’t drink while the vehicle is in motion you are allowed to consume alcohol while it’s parked because it’s designed for people to be inside of it.
Passengers in a vehicle where the driver holds a valid commercial driving license, passengers of a bus (where the bus driver holds a valid commercial driver license), and people inside of RV’s longer than 21 feet are exempt from this section.
What If I Am Charged with an Open Container Offense?
According to the Florida Open Container Statute 316.1936, cities and municipalities can create their own ordinances for open containers as well. After you have your criminal charges brought to you, you can call Proly, Laporte & Mulligan, P.A. at 727-478-4125 or talk to one of our attorneys online about your open container charge.